Friday, September 21, 2012

Jordan Press Law Stifles Electronic Media

Flag of Jordan
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arab League co-founder Jordan has free press advocates on edge over an amendment to its Press and Publications Law that requires government licensure of electronic publications, the Daily Star reported this week.

The constitutional monarchy headed by King Abdullah authorizes the culture ministry to block unlicensed Web sites without having to secure a court order, according to Human Rights Watch. The new law presents a nebulous definition of electronic publication, but clearly articulates that Web site owners will be deemed responsible for content posted on their sites and that site users' comments will be subject to government-imposed restrictions.

The Star article cites an Associated Press estimate that roughly 400 Jordanian Web sites will be affected by the new law. In contrast, Section 230 (c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act in the U.S. shields Internet Service Providers from liability for content from third parties.  Jordan's Press and Publications Law already criminalizes defamation, encompassing governmental and religious entities, as well as people.
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  1. Disturbing. Expected better of Jordan and King Abdullah.

  2. Jordan may compare favorably to its neighbors (except for Israel), but the arrow is moving toward repression. Check out the Human Rights Watch Web site ( or this link to the Committee to Protect Journalists' evaluation of Jordan, which isn't too impressive.